Leadership magazine May/June 2015 V 44 No 5 - Page 38

Practical ways schools can partner with local emergency responders Continued from page 15 the best resource to work with to make sure that your school is properly prepared while following the communication strategies that ICS employs. Partnering with your local fire service agency and finding out who can work with your school district is an excellent way to get professional feedback and guidance for your safety program. 2. Application! Once you have your safety program in place and ICS is adhered to, then you can practice with your staff and eventually your entire school population. You can run your school fire drills, earthquake drills and “shooter on campus” drills utilizing the Incident Command System. Contact the local fire department to come out and evaluate how your drills are conducted. Have them listen to your ICS communications. They can also check to make sure your triage area is in a good location and your command post is in an advantageous location. They may even provide you with feedback on evacuation routes that are better suited for your campus than what you may be using right now. Again, use their expertise to help you better protect yourselves and your children on campus. 3. Evaluation! You’ve done all of your prep, you’ve practiced your drills many times, and now it’s time to get some honest feedback on how you have protected your staff, kids and campus. Once again, get professional feedback from emergency responders. Firefighters use a term called “tailboard sessions.” This is essentially a defusing process, and it is an excellent way to make your system better and stronger, immediately after a drill or actual emergency. Once you have completed your drill, ask the emergency responders to stick around and provide insight on how you did and how you can improve. There are two advantages to this. Because of their training, emergency responders may see things that you might not have thought of. Also, because emergency responders are not at your school site day in and day out, they have “fresh eyes” that are watching how you conduct your trainings. Planning saves lives Now it’s up to you! Have a plan, apply your plan, evaluate your plan, and most importantly, partner with emergency responders to effectively complete your plan. The plans you develop today may save you and your kids tomorrow. n Joe Viramontez is a retired fire captain, Santa Clara County. 38 Leadership